Darren O’Dea seeks to get career back on track after foreign travails
Defender still open to offers from overseas after proving his fitness at Blackpool
Darren O’Dea has said he is still willing to listen to offers from overseas. Photograph: Inpho
Darren O’Dea insists that he is still open to another offer from overseas despite stints in Canada and Ukraine that arguably knocked his career off track. The 28 year-old Dubliner says he is a better player as a result of having played away and believes he will have more options in England after proving his fitness over the second half of this season at Blackpool.
“From the outside, Blackpool obviously had a disastrous season,” says the centre back whose short term contract with the club ran out over the weekend, “but for me, going there was about playing. I had a bad injury before I went there and after having been out of the country before that I think there was a bit of a question mark over me in people’s minds. I wanted to put that to bed which I think I did by playing 20 games and never missing a day’s training.”
The former Celtic star says that he is happy to move on but conscious of the challenge that still lies ahead for everybody he is leaving behind because of the way the club is being run. “The manager (Lee Clark) was fantastic, I feel for him and I feel for the players that are going to be there as well because if Blackpool don’t get their finger out, they could potentially go down again. They were in the Premier league what? Three years ago? Sometimes you wonder...
“I think if he (Clark) gets his way then Blackpool with be fine but as a manager there I wouldn’t say getting your way is the easiest thing. There are some lovely people there but club is poorly run and they’re going to struggle.”
They certainly struggled during the campaign just ended with O’Dea having only tasted victory there twice while there defeats in which the team conceded six and seven.
He is confident that if that happens he is capable of proving himself at a high level but he admits that he won’t know whether that view is shared by the people who matter within the game until the offers start to come in.
“You’re at the mercy of other people,” he says, but if you look at my CV. . . I’ve been around for long enough now: I’m 28, I’ve played more that 250 club games, never below the Championship and obviously, with Celtic, it was the SPL.
“I’ve 20 international caps so I think it’s fair to say I could do a job for someone but in the end it’s down to who needs a central defender and who fancies me for their team. I could tell you that I think I could play for Real Madrid but if they’re not coming in for you then that really doesn’t matter.”
If the right offer came in from abroad, he says, he would definitely consider it despite his most recent stint abroad being ended by what amounted to a civil war. “In the end it was clear it wasn’t a place they (his family) should be but I have no regrets about going there; I was picking up a bit of the language and the culture and would have been happy to have had more.
‘Story to tell’
With his daughter, Lucia, almost school-going age, the issue has become that little bit more complicated but, he says, “I could be retired at 35 and lying on a couch for 65 years so I might as well see as much of the world and enjoy my football. That ‘s not to say I’m not looking at England,” he adds, “I am.”
As for Ireland and the possibility of cap number 21, he realises there is work to be done before he can start thinking in those terms again: “My ambition to play international football will never change but do I think about now? No. But if I get back to the level that I want to be next season then, yeah, it will be something then that I can think about again.”